President Rodrigo Duterte said he intends to visit China before the end of the year to personally thank Chinese President Xi Jinping for the initial 600,000 doses of the vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) from Sinovac Biotech that arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.
Addressing Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian in a speech, Duterte said he wanted to thank Xi for making possible the delivery of the first Covid-19 vaccine doses to the Philippines which will be used to vaccinate healthcare workers and uniformed personnel.
“Mr. Ambassador, I’d like to just say that towards the – maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down – I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation. Thank you,” he said in a speech during the arrival ceremony of the Sinovac-made vaccines at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Duterte described China’s Covid-19 vaccine donation as a “gesture of friendship and solidarity,” which to him is the hallmark of Philippine-China partnership.
He noted that the Philippines is the only country to have the privilege of having the Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered instead of having to pick up the supply from China.
“I would like to just add that China has donated several vaccines to several countries. But it is only the donation made to the Philippines that was carried by a Chinese government plane. Iyong iba kinukuha doon sa China. Dito, hinatid sa atin (Others would have to pick them up from China. Here, it is delivered to us),” he said.
Duterte described the delivery of the first Covid-19 vaccine doses in the country as “another step forward” in the country’s fight against Covid-19.
He also expressed confidence that more batches of vaccines will be available until every Filipino will be given the chance to be vaccinated.
“The delivery of this first batch, I hope, will serve as a guarantee to everyone that we are taking a big step in our efforts to overcome this health crisis,” he said.
He reassured the public that the government remains committed to a timely vaccine roll out that will enable a shift to the least stringent modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
He directed all concerned agencies to institutionalize the whole-of-government approach in the vaccine roll out.
“I cannot stress [this] enough: we cannot afford to waste time or resources in the distribution of these vaccines because we are dealing with precious lives,” he said. SOVEREIGNPH